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Alaska News

PFD voter registration initiative to be bumped to November ballot

  • Author: Devin Kelly
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published April 18, 2016

JUNEAU -- Work on the state budget isn't the only thing being pushed back with lawmakers adding time to the legislative session.

With the Legislature poised to keep working past midnight Monday, a voter initiative that would tie Alaska's Permanent Fund dividend to voter registration will be bumped from the August primary to the November general election.

If the legislative session adjourned at midnight Monday, the measure would go on the August primary ballot, Josie Bahnke, director of the state Division of Elections, wrote in an email. She cited a 120-day rule between the adjournment of the session and the placement of a measure on a statewide ballot.

But by Monday afternoon, lawmakers had scheduled committee meetings for Tuesday, with no signs of wrapping up before then.

Those backing the initiative said Monday the shift to November is probably good news.

"I think if we had to pick, we would have picked the general," said John Henry Heckendorn of the Ship Creek Group, the Anchorage consulting firm managing the initiative campaign.

Though, he added: "It's out of our control."

Heckendorn said the general election will turn out younger voters and more voters from rural Alaska, whom he expects will lean in favor of the initiative. He said his group is preparing to launch a new poll to gauge those attitudes.

If it passes, the initiative would automatically register dividend applicants to vote. Supporters say the move would add as many as 70,000 people to the state's voter rolls.

Nathaniel Herz contributed to this story.

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